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<p>Jack White</p>

Jack White

Jack White and Tom Jones join forces for new single

New Third Man Records set features a cover of a Howlin' Wolf song

There are some artists who seem to just get hipper as they get older and Jack White seems to connect with each one of them.

First it was Loretta Lynn and then Wanda Jackson. Now, White has linked with Tom Jones, whom we were just raving about in our list of top concerts of 2011.

White recently told Mojo (via twentyfourbit) that the latest 45  from his label, Third Man Records, will be Jones performing “Jezebel”and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil (Is Going On).”  White told the British magazine, “He impressed the shit out of everybody.”  The single comes out March 5.

The recording would seem to be part of Third Man Records’ Blue Series, which may also include re-issues (in conjunction with Document Records) of some of the blues masters who influenced White, including Blind Willie McTell and Charley Patton.

Next up for White: he'll appear on The History Channel's "American Pickers" on Monday, Jan. 9., as the show visits Third Man Records in Nashville. Apparently, there's a little bargaining going on as White tries to barter the phone booth used in a Dead Weather video for, as a press release states, "one of the most memorable treasures ever to appear on the show."

In other Jones news, he will be one of the four coaches when the U.K. launches its own version of "The Voice" this Spring. The knighted Welshman will join Jessie J, The Script frontman Danny O'Donoghue and Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.
 

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<p>Benedict Cumberbatch of &quot;Sherlock&quot;</p>
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Benedict Cumberbatch of "Sherlock"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour Shocker: Benedict Cumberbatch says nothing about 'Star Trek' role

'Sherlock' star says he's 'over the moon' about his casting
PASADENA - When news broke on Wednesday (January 4) afternoon that "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch had landed a key, but entirely undisclosed, role in J.J. Abrams' upcoming "Star Trek" dozens of TV critics had the same thought: Sweet! We'll get no scoops whatsoever when Benedict Cumberbatch appears at the Television Critics Association press tour via satellite to promote the second season of his Arthur Conan Doyle series.
 
And we were correct!
 
Cumberbatch only received a question-and-a-half about his "Star Trek" casting, but his answers didn't even rise to the level of cryptic or evasive. 
 
So what did the "War Horse" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" scene stealer actually have to say about his highest profile film to date? 
 
Click through...
 
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<p>Bret McKenzie tries to wrangle Animal on &quot;The Muppets.&quot;</p>

Bret McKenzie tries to wrangle Animal on "The Muppets."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tech Support Interview: Bret McKenzie on his 'Muppety' additions to 'The Muppets'

The 'Flight of the Conchords' star/songwriter is on the verge of Oscar glory

Bret McKenzie is not a fan of musicals. He doesn’t cruise down the motorways of his hometown in Wellington belting the plaintiff cry of "Les Miserables" - “2-4-6-0-1111111” (Jean Valjean that is). Or at least that’s what he would have us believe and claimed when I spoke to him from his home in New Zealand this week. I remain convinced that he has a “Best of Barbara” tucked away in the nether regions of his vehicle.

In any event, McKenzie’s (alleged) lack of interest in musical theater is somewhat ironic given that he has made his name as one half of the folk comedy duo "Flight of the Conchords" (his other half being Jemaine Clement), and that he is in all likelihood about to receive one, if not two, Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song. (And it's a shame that, according to Academy rules, the film can't receive three.)

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<p>Judy Greer was nominated for her role in &quot;The&nbsp;Descendants.&quot;</p>

Judy Greer was nominated for her role in "The Descendants."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Descendants' leads with Denver critics nods

Judy Greer finds some love with a Best Supporting Actress mention

The Denver Film Critics Society has announced its list of nominees this year, and "The Descendants" was the vote-leader. The film even scored two nominations in the Best Supporting Actress category, as Judy Greer joined Shailene Woodley for the fun. Check out the full list of nominees below.

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<p>Dave Grohl</p>

Dave Grohl

Credit: AP Photo

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl joins the Ratt Pack

Grohl teams with Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini for new track

There’s no telling whom Dave Grohl will team up with next. The Foo Fighters leader is now headed into the studio with Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini.

Ratt lead singer Pearcy tweeted today: “Warren and I are doing a song for a project with @foofightersDave. We’ll let him tell you about when he’s ready kidz. Not for a RATT record.” Don't bother looking for an update from Grohl's Twitter page: the last tweet is from 2009.

The Foos are still mining tracks from their excellent Grammy-nominated 2011 album “Wasting Light,” which made my list of top 10 albums of 2011.  Pearcy’s latest solo album, “Sucker Punch,” will come out later this year. Ratt’s last album, “Infestation,” was released in 2010, but Pearcy also tweeted today that he is set to demo songs for a new Ratt record next week

 

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<p>Bjork</p>

Bjork

Bjork bringing 'Biophelia' brainchild to Big Apple

Songwriter's cross-platform concept album gets 10 dates of a New York premiere

For the first time since launching her album concept, Bjork is bringing her "Biophelia" concert presentation to the United States.

The Icelandic singer-songwriter will be performing "Biophelia" to its "original specifications" for six nights at the New York Hall of Science, then for four nights at New York's Beacon Theater. The Hall of Science allows for the vision of "audio-visual shows in an intimate setting with no audience member more than a few yards from the stage," though all 10 concerts will be performed in the round, in conjunction with The Creator's Project.

As previously reported, the ten songs on "Biophelia" featured 10 corresponding apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, thus the A/V components that will be used during the shows. Too, the live performances boast the bonkers musical instrumentation that helped in making "Biophelia," including "four 10-foot pendulum-harps" and "a MIDI-controlled pipe organ celeste re-fitted with bronze gamelan bars." Personally, I'm just happy to see Bjork with free space to roam.

What I'm also eager to see is its execution. The fact that you had to "experience" the album with an electronic device that I simply don't own is prohibitive, though many of the video elements were posted online after release. The cost of a ticket to a Bjork show may cost just as much as an iPad, true, but this at least amps more on that original idea, so that all may partake.

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<p>Sandra Bullock is slowly becoming &quot;Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's&quot;&nbsp;best shot at landing an Oscar nomination.</p>

Sandra Bullock is slowly becoming "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's" best shot at landing an Oscar nomination.

Credit: Warner Bros.

2012 WGA Awards nominations: 'War Horse' and 'Extremely Loud' take an Oscar hit

When you're eligible in this ineligible mix you need the nod

As In Contention's Kris Tapley so eloquently warned us last month, there were many fine screenplays this year that wouldn't be eligible for the 2012 WGA Awards.  Guild awards are a wonderful honor from your peers, but they're also a union honor and if you don't play by the rules you can't get rewarded.  So it goes.

Therefore, it's not too surprising to find a number of unexpected nominees among the field announced by the WGA today.  What's more perplexing is some of the notable omissions ("The Ides of March," "War Horse"), inclusions ("Dragon Tattoo") and one outright rejection by the industry's writers ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close").   While guild awards typically signal how their respective Academy branches should vote in regards to nominees and winners, that's not going to be the case this year with so many ineligible contenders.  With that in mind, let's review the adapted and original fields.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

10 things we learned from Kanye West's latest Twitter rant

What the heck is 'DONDA?' What about 'The Jetsons?' Will he and Spike Jonze start a school?

The all-caps may be gone, but Kanye West's propensity to over-share has been revealed again in the hip-hop star's latest Twitter rant.

The first missives from the younger half of Watch the Throne were launched into orbit yesterday afternoon, with the intended result to "clarify a few things." Further into the evening, he sent his thoughts through a stream of consciousness by starting with Leonardo di Vinci quote, and ending with words from George Bernard Shaw. Clarity became somewhat opaque during the voyage. Or, as he wrote: "This is just a train of thought .. but figure it's better to read than trained thoughts." Perhaps West is still working out the kinks of a few of his own philosophical quoatations.

Below is the best interpretation of the top 10 "things" that West informed his friends and fans on Twitter:

1.  He is starting a new venture called DONDA, named after his late mother. "DONDA is a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there dreams and ideas... DONDA will be comprised of over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford..."

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<p>Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Don Cheadle,&nbsp;Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz in Showtime's &quot;House of Lies.&quot;</p>

Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Don Cheadle, Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz in Showtime's "House of Lies."

Credit: Showtime

Review: Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell are hustling in Showtime's 'House of Lies'

Comedy about management consultants has strong leads but needs to work on its perspective
A few years back, Matthew Carnahan created a series that couldn't have seemed more timely. In FX's "Dirt," Courteney Cox played the editor of a celebrity tabloid, and the show came on just as gossip was beginning to drive most entertainment news (and news, period, in some cases). But "Dirt" never seemed to know what kind of show it wanted to be when it grew up, and Cox's character wavered between villainous and virtuous.
 
"House of Lies," Carnahan's new Showtime dramedy (it premieres Sunday night at 10), also feels incredibly timely. In this age of Occupy Wall Street, it's a show ostensibly lampooning the 1%, as we follow a team of management consultants who travel around the country trying to fix - or, at least, hustle fees out of - one large, inhumane corporation after another.
 
And while it's more entertaining than "Dirt" - thanks primarily to the chemistry of a cast headed by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell - it suffers from the same wobbly sense of tone and direction. It's in the right place and the right time, but it's not necessarily the right show.
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<p>Tate Taylor&nbsp;(center)&nbsp;directs Emma Stone (left) and Viola Davis (right) on the set of &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Tate Taylor (center) directs Emma Stone (left) and Viola Davis (right) on the set of "The Help."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Predicting the 2011 DGA nominees

All eyes are on Monday's announcement

On Monday, the most important precursor announcement of them all drops: the Directors Guild of America offers up its list of nominees for excellence in directing.

Except it isn't really about "excellence in directing" for this crowd. It really never has been. It's a chance for the organization to speak up on its picks for the "Best Picture" of the year.

There have been happy aberrations along the way, like Cameron Crowe getting recognized for "Almost Famous" or Christopher Nolan getting a surprising tip of the hat for "Memento." But while the group has dipped into "lone director" territory before (Mike Figgis, Ridley Scott), largely this has been about picking the five top films of the year, which often go on to be the eventual Best Picture nominees with the Academy. So the question is, why has the DGA's announcement so often been a reliable indicator of where the Academy will go with Best Picture?

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Taking questions for 1/6 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

Alright, you know the drill. Toss out your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few on the first podcast of the new year tomorrow. As always, try to keep it fresh and stay away from stuff mulled over to death.

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<p>Demi&aacute;n Bichir in &quot;A&nbsp;Better Life&quot;</p>

Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Santa Barbara fest taps Bichir, Mara, McCarthy, Oswalt, Serkis and Woodley for Virtuosos Award

Presentation to take place on February 3

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced, along with its film schedule, the recipients of this year's Virtuosos Award. And they cast the widest net yet, honoring Demián Bichir ("A Better Life"), Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids"), Patton Oswalt ("Young Adult"), Andy Serkis ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "The Adventures of Tintin") and Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants").

The Virtuosos Award is meant to recognize a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through their work in a given year. In the press release, festival director Roger Durling praises the honorees for their "indelible performances."

You can't really argue with the list. Though I feel like Serkis stands out a bit and probably could have used some kind of singular achievement notice. Then again, rounding him up with a number of other actors is probably just how he'd like it to be. Performance capture is just a way of recording performance and it all still boils down to the elements of acting for him.

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